Thomson has added a new concept store to its 600-strong retail estate in the UK which includes the use of in-store VR headsets for the first time.
Other UK high street agents have had VR is shops for some time – Tnooz first reported that Thomson’s big UK rival Thomas Cook first used VR in shops nearly three years ago. Virgin Holidays and Kuoni are among other UK high street travel agents using the tech in store.
Thomson has tended to be ahead of the curve when it comes to transitioning a legacy vertically integrated tour operator into a multi-channel travel retailer, so the fact that it is a bit late to the VR party comes as a surprise.
However, a spokesperson explained that Thomson has bided its time and launched what it claims is a unique approach to VR in travel retailing – namely that it has been set up so that up to four people “can experience VR simultaneously.”
While the content will be the same for all users, the experience will vary according to how the user navigates around the scenes.
A spokesperson explained: “If customers are viewing the deck of the ship, one person could be looking at the view out to the sea and the other could be looking at the deck seating.”
And another first is claimed with the involvement of the travel agent or advisor him or herself. The advisor will see on his or her laptop the view that the individual sees and can “guide” the user through the VR landscape.
Thomson is using Samsung Gear VR sets and is producing the content in-house.
While some of the other innovations at the new concept store in Dudley are a bit underwhelming – computers to print stuff out, an electronics appointment booking system – the approach to VR is refreshing and would be of interest to families and groups or, indeed, anyone looking to make the trip to the high street travel agent a bit more exciting.
Whether this will increase conversions or just footfall remains to be seen.